• by Wes Singleton

The Disaster Artist, A-

Rated R, 105 minutes

"The Disaster Artist" is a tender, well-acted and often hilarious look at the making of of one of cinema's worst films, 2003's "The Room," written, directed and produced by novice filmmaker Tommy Wiseau.

Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) become friends after meeting each other in an acting class in San Francisco. Hoping to achieve Hollywood stardom, Sestero moves to Los Angeles and signs on to appear in his buddy's project. Financed with his own money, Wiseau writes, directs and stars in "The Room," a critically maligned and unintentionally terrible movie that became a cult classic.

The funny, bittersweet and superbly acted "The Disaster Artist" is directed by Franco and co-written by the writing team of Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, writers of such films as "500 Days of Summer" and "The Spectacular Now" and based on Sestero's account of the making of the film in his nonfiction book of the same name. Franco is terrific as the mysterious filmmaker Wiseau, whose inexplicably wealthy, has a thick accent and says he's from New Orleans and never gives his full name.

What we do know is that Wiseau wanted to be an All-American film star, and "The Room" gave him his chance to prove everyone wrong. What ended up was a modern day version of "Plan 9 From Outer Space," a film so bad that it became a cult classic, playing for years at midnight showings and would help it eventually turn a profit, since Wiseau spent an estimated $6 million of his own money to make and release the film.

"The Disaster Artist" provides some real treats: behind the scenes making of the film, not to mention a charming Franco, who brings humor, heart and a little swagger as Wiseau. The younger Franco is less effective and a little too wide-eyed as Sestero, but it provides a good counter-balance to James' overconfident Wiseau.

Rounding out the cast is "The Hunger Games" Josh Hutcherson, Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor, and Jacki Weaver as various cast and crew members. There are also plenty of cameos from the likes Judd Apatow, Sharon Stone, Megan Mullaly and Casey Wilson. Most cast and crew are given ill-fitting, ridiculous-looking wigs, which was probably intentional yet still slightly baffling.

There are plenty of intentionally cringe-worthy scenes in "The Disaster Artist," among them, the making of the sex scenes in "The Room," but there are plenty of really funny ones too, including the classic scene in which Wiseau can't remember a simple line over 70 plus takes. Making a bad movie has been this fun since 1994's "Ed Wood."

Stay for the end credit scenes, in which scenes from the film are redone with the new cast and played side-by-side the original. "The Disaster Artist" isn't perfect, but it's great fun, and Franco's turn as Wiseau is a must-see.

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